The University College of St. Martin: Lancaster, Ambleside and Carlisle

Article excerpt

Alan Farmer, Head of History, asks the key questions about gaining a place

Where? Which? What? Who? How? Why? These tend to be the key questions of life. They are certainly the key questions that historians ask. So let's apply them to the University College of St Martin -- UCSM for short. Answers to all the above questions might help provide an answer to the key question: why should you consider applying to UCSM to study History?

WHERE IS UCSM?

UCSM has several major bases in NorthWest England, situated in and around the Lake District. Its three main campuses are at Lancaster, Ambleside and Carlisle. The Lancaster campus, a ten-minute walk from the city centre, is perched on a hill overlooking Lancaster, Morecambe Bay and the Cumbrian fells. Lancaster is a city with a long and distinguished history dating back to the Roman period. At its heart lies one of the best preserved medieval castles in Britain. The small city is consequently a popular tourist venue with a lively calendar of heritage events. The Ambleside campus (formerly Charlotte Mason), situated in the heart of the Lake District, is a glorious spot for those who like climbing, walking, sailing and good scenery. It is also surrounded by history: Roman forts, medieval castles, and 18th and 19th century houses abound. The Carlisle campus is situated close to the city centre. Carlisle is a town with a strong identity and plenty of history on the doorstep, including Hadrian's Wall and a fine Cathedral and castle. Just nine miles from Scotland, it is within easy reach of the Lake District and the Northumbrian moors.

At this stage it is worth stressing that students opt for one campus and stay there. It is tutors, not students, who move about.

WHICH COURSE?

As well as offering a variety of sites, UCSM also offers a variety of courses in a number of distinct programmes. For undergraduates, we have a three-year BA (Hons) History degree and a four year BA (Hons) QTS degree. We also have a Secondary History PGCE course (one of the largest in the UK) and a Primary PGCE course.

BA (Hons) History

History is one of the major subjects of UCSM's Modular Degree course. Currently some 50 students a year opt to major in History at Part One. It is possible to take a degree almost entirely in History. It is equally possible to take a combined degree with a vast range of other subjects -- Sport, English, Drama, Geography etc. The modular scheme allows students considerable choice and flexibility in planning the make-up of their degree whilst assuring that their degree route has academic coherence.

On the History front, students choose from a wide menu of modules which cover just about every period of British, American, and Irish History. Year One modules focus on skills, methodology and concepts. In Years Two and Three students select from a wide variety of survey courses. Third year students also select a Special Subject which involves examining a period in real depth. Special Subjects on offer at present include The American Civil War, The Irish Political Revolution, Empire and Immigration: Britain 1947-1974, Custom and Culture in Industrialising England, and Popular Politics in the Age of Reform.

BA (Hons) History with QTS

UCSM has an outstanding national reputation for producing high quality primary teachers, and a recent Ofsted inspection awarded it the highest grade for the quality of the training process. Comments included: `tutors exemplified very good teaching'; `their knowledge of history and their practical experience of history teaching in primary schools were outstanding and their enthusiasm for their subject communicated itself to students.'

Most of the `academic' History modules are designed to correspond with the National Curriculum Key Stage 2 programmes of study in History. Courses, therefore, include the Ancient Egyptians, the Ancient Greeks, Roman Britain, Saxon and Viking England, the Tudors, the Victorians, and Britain since 1930. …